Every year thousands of people go on to found their own company. In fact, some estimates believe that in the US alone there are over 500,000 new businesses started each month.
And many of them are from first time founders. As a first time founder myself, I’m always on the look out for ways to improve my business batting average.
What can I start to do today that will give my company a better edge tomorrow?
6 Ways to Be A Better First Time Founder
While there are an enumerable number of improvements, six are constantly on my hit list. Check out 6 ways you can become a better first time founder.
1. Study the Greats
If you want to be the best you have to learn from the best. Carefully analyzing what the best founders are doing is as good as any way I can think of to increase your chances of success.
How can we do that?
There are so many ways – here are a few:
- Read Books – Although I’m not a huge fan of biographies, I do enjoy books that provide a blend of autobiographical history with company story. A perfect example of this is Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness, which provides insight into the Zappos story from the founder’s perspective. You can also go a more traditional route with a standard biography, such as Steve Jobs.
- Read Blogs – There’s so much information that founders put online. I’m a fan of QuickSpout via Neil Patel. He often writes case studies about his successes and failures in founding multiple companies, such as What I Learned from Fighting a 12-Month-Long Lawsuit.
- Attend Webinars – Many companies hold webinars, such as KissMetrics, who as held dozens of free webinars focused at business owners (particularly SaaS entrepreneurs). They have a large archive of recorded ones as well.
- Interview People – Perhaps the easiest way to get your questions answered is simply to interview people. This can be done on your blog or in a podcast. A great example is John Dumas’s Entrepreneur On Fire.
2. Build Your Network
If there is one great asset that you can carry over with you from startup to startup it’s your network.
Did you know that across all stages of a person’s purchase cycle, word of mouth is the primary driver of a purchase decision. It influences 93 percent of consumers, according to a survey by RewardStream, a loyalty platform solutions provider.
Not to mention that relationship building and having a sense of community is one of the fundamental elements of being happy.
Whether we’re trying to grow our business, or simply feel a bit better day to day, connecting with other like-minded people needs to be a daily practice.
Aside from traditional forms of networking, there are quite a few digital approaches, such as:
- Engaging with them on social media – Follow them on Facebook, tweet at them on Twitter, or comment on a recent post they shared.
- Make an Introduction – I find that one of the most potent ways to build relationships with people is to introduce them to someone else in your network. This is extremely powerful because it creates a strong web throughout your network.
- Commenting on their blog or podcast – Find a post that resonates with you and leave a thoughtful comment.
3. Be Transparent
In a recent article for Neil Patel, entitled Why Transparency Is The New Marketing, he wrote:
“Being open about your business is a great way to gain people’s trust and loyalty. By sharing problems you maybe facing, or by sharing your financial numbers (whether they are good or bad) will help you build a larger following.” – Neil Patel
Should I mention again why I never miss a QuickSprout article?
More and more, especially with SaaS companies, we are seeing transparency. People are revealing an increasing amount of information about their companies, such as revenue, employee incomes, strategic decisions, and more.
Blogs focused on sharing and transparency:
- Buffer’s Open Blog
- Zach’s Built in Public
- Groove’s Startup Journey Blog
- BareMetrics Revenue Dashboard
4. Have Top Notch, Personal Customer Support
Whether or not our company makes it, I want people to remember that we did our best to provide excellent customer support. One of the ways we are doing that at NinjaOutreach is by putting a direct telephone line on top of our website.
I receive weekly calls and it gives me an opportunity to get to know my customers on a first name basis.
Now, whether you offer phone support or not, there are lots of other channels through which you can have stellar customer support, such as
- Live chat widget on the website (we use Zopim)
- Contact form (this is a no brainer)
- Twitter (not just for social media)
- Knowledge base
5. Learn How to Make Decisions
A recent article I read discussed the chaos theory of startups.
With so much noise surrounding a company, sometimes the most difficult thing to do is deciding what to do.
“In any given scenario there are three potential outcomes. The best outcome is that you make the correct decision. The second best is that you make the wrong decision. The worst outcome is when you can’t make a decision.”
And if there is really one thing above all that is dependent on the Founder to do, first and foremost, it’s to make decisions.
And perhaps before that, to come up with a process for making decisions.
- Some simple tips for improving your decision process are:Cost-Benefit Analysis – Weigh the pros and the cons.
- Narrow Your Options – When more choices are presented to us, the greater the difficulty in making a final decision.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – if it won’t affect you or others in a significant way, then be quick about it.
- Do Your Research – Read articles related to the topic for insight.
- Get a Well-Informed Opinion – Ask someone you know who might be better to make this decision.
6. Control Your Emotions
Building a startup is a rollercoaster ride. I’ve never read anyone say it was easy, especially the first time around.
Learning to control your emotions will help you make clearer, more rational decisions and frankly will make you a more pleasant person to be around for friends and family.
Now you know how to be a better first time founder!